Jerusalem municipality completes signs for new US embassy

Authorities also paving a new back entrance to the US Consulate compound, which will serve as the temporary premises for the embassy

View of the US Consulate in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, February 24, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
View of the US Consulate in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, February 24, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Jerusalem Municipality is completing preparations for the inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem slated for next month, Channel 10 news reported Friday.

Photos shared by Channel 10 Jerusalem affairs reporter Yossi Eli showed new road signs pointing visitors to the new US mission.

Eli also noted that authorities were busy paving a new back entrance to the US Consulate, which will serve as the temporary premises for the embassy.

The Times of Israel reported Wednesday that US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Kushner’s wife, White House adviser Ivanka Trump, are considering traveling to Israel next month to inaugurate the embassy.

On May 14, the US will hold an official dedication ceremony for the US embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood.

Kushner, one of Trump’s top aides, and his wife, whose official title is assistant to the president, have been asked to represented the US administration at the celebrations surrounding the embassy inauguration, according to officials in Jerusalem and Washington.

However, the Jewish power couple has not finalized travel plans, the officials added.

In this photo taken Friday, March 17, 2017, Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Donald Trump, attend a joint news conference with the president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Kushner is the key architect of the US administration’s efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, though he has been embroiled in various controversies.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday announced that the Foreign Ministry will host a reception for “guests” coming to Israel on the occasion of the embassy dedication. He did not provide further details.

Besides Kushner and Ivanka Trump, other senior US officials are expected to attend next month’s festivities, but the US embassy in Tel Aviv said it was “still working on [the] guest list and invites” and declined to confirm any names at this time.

According to an US embassy official in Tel Aviv, an official dedication ceremony for the US embassy in Jerusalem will be held on May 14 — the civil date of Israel’s 70th birthday.

“Initially, the interim embassy in Arnona will contain office space for the ambassador [David Friedman] and a small staff. By the end of next year, we will complete the construction of additional office space in the Arnona compound that will provide the ambassador and his team with expanded interim capacity,” the official told The Times of Israel.

“Most embassy staff will continue to live and work in Tel Aviv during this period until a new embassy is built in Jerusalem. We expect the process of site selection, design, planning and permitting, and construction of a permanent embassy to take additional years to complete.”

Friedman, who owns a home in Jerusalem, will “continue to divide his time between his official residence in Herzliya and a residence in Jerusalem during the initial phases of the embassy move, as this is a multi-year process,” the official said.

Trump, who formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced the embassy relocation on December 6, had mulled attending the inauguration but reportedly decided against it.

US President Donald Trump (right) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House on March 5, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

On March 5, the US president was asked if he would travel to Israel to cut the ribbon on the new facility, almost a year after his first visit to Jerusalem as president.

“I may. I may,” he said during a meeting with Netanyahu in the White House. “We’re looking at coming. If I can, I will.”

While US officials later denied reports that he decided not to come to Israel in May, a presidential visit to Israel is not planned, officials said.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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